Kennebunkport selectmen are looking at having repairs made to the floor of the bait shed at the Cape Porpoise Pier, which town officials say appears to be sinking. Tammy Wells Photo

KENNEBUNKPORT – Even as selectmen are awaiting final designs and are applying for grants  for major renovations at the Cape Porpoise Pier, the town is looking at making repairs to a portion of the facility.

Public Works Director Mike Claus on Oct, 8 told selectmen that the slab that supports the floor of the bait shed closest to the parking lot, looked like it had dropped 1  to 2 inches following a recent high tide that saw water come inside.

“It is  not that surprising at high tides that water would get in there,” said Claus. “The building is supported on beams that seem to be on good concrete toward the parking lot side, but the slab is sitting on whatever material that was put there when it was built, and the tide has begun to wash that out.”

He said he, Harbor Master Chris Mayo and a consulting engineer drilled some holes in the 6- to 8-inch slab, and found significant voids underneath.

Claus  said the floor is not in danger of immediate collapse – there is not a lot of weight on the floor, but the department is looking at shoring it up, either by stabilizing it with grout or putting flowable fill underneath the slab.

“It should be fixed,” said Claus in a telephone interview Friday. He said the portion of the shed is used by lobster fishermen to store bait. If the floor sinks further, it could cause a usability problem, he said.

He said an estimate to remediate the problem is $8,000 to $12,000 for the solution that involves putting in grout under the slab. A second solution would be to cut holes in the floor and put in flowable fill under the slab, but that possibility needs further exploration, Claus told selectmen. He said if the work were done at low tide, fabric could be laid out underneath to catch any excess.

Money for the fix is likely to come from the town’s Cape Porpoise Pier reserve fund, once a solution is decided.

The Cape Porpoise Pier is scheduled for a major renovation, designed to be conducted in phases so it remains available to commercial fishermen. If funding is forthcoming, the town aims to begin construction in November 2021, said Claus, who added that Kennebunkport is applying for major grant funding through the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

Town Manager Laurie Smith told selectmen that the town is continuing to look at funding sources with the state and federal governments, but in the meantime, the town is “continuing to make repairs at the pier as best we can.”

The pier is owned by the town, which estimates the commercial fishery accounts for $9 million to $11 million in economic benefit to the area.

The proposed pier renovation includes installation of new pilings in the area under the existing harbormaster’s office, construction of a new bait shed and harbormaster’s office, upgraded water and sewer utilities, burial of electrical wiring, a separation of fuel for commercial and recreational watercraft, a designated area for recreational boats, and more.

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